Arnor was founded at the end of the Second Age (S.A. 3320) by Elendil, whose sons founded Gondor at the same time. The history of the two kingdoms is intertwined; both kingdoms are known as the Realms of the Dúnedain in exile.
Before the foundation of Arnor there was already a sizable Númenórean population living there, a result of the slow emigration of Númenóreans which had started under Tar-Meneldur and Tar-Aldarion. Before the arrival of the Dúnedain Arnor was home to Middle Men of Edain stock, and the early colonists soon interbred with the indigenous population. Elendil and his people were aided by Noldorin High King Gil-galad and his people, and his ships sailed up the Lune river. He established the city of Annúminas as his capital. Arnor was originally favored over the more southern regions (Gondor) because the Elves under Gil-galad lived near it across the river Lhûn. However, in later days after the Númenóreans fell under Sauron’s shadow they settled more to the south. This led to a situation where Elendil arrived in an area populated by people who, unlike his own Númenóreans, were mainly still friends with the Elves, and unlike Gondor to the south in Arnor much knowledge of the Elder Days was preserved.
The Palantíri or ‘seeing stones’ were spherical stones that could communicate with each other and give visual impressions to a skilled remote user. These stones were divided originally between Elendil and his two sons. They were usually heavily guarded and under the control of the kings. There were seven of these stones in total, with three of them assigned to the northern kingdom, with the other four going to Gondor. They were:
- the Elostirion-stone, in the tower of Elostirion, and was used to communicate with the master stone in Tol Eressëa of the Elves, along the Straight Road. It could not contact the other Middle-Earth stones.
- the Amon Sûl-stone, in the watchtower of Amon Sûl. A large stone, it was often used to contact its corresponding large stone in Gondor, at the great dome in Osgiliath.
- the Annúminas-stone, in the capital city of Annúminas. Though one of the lesser stones, it was the stone most often used by the Kings of Arnor.
At the end of the Second Age, Arnor allied itself with Noldorin High King Gil-galad in a great alliance opposing Sauron, the Last Alliance of Elves and Men. In conjunction with southern forces from Gondor, they confronted Sauron’s armies in the War of the Last Alliance. This war was fought over a period of several years on the Dagorlad plain and in Mordor itself, at the Siege of Barad-dûr. Both Elendil and his son Anárion were slain in this conflict, but Isildur cut the One Ring from Sauron’s finger and prevailed. Elrond, Gil-galad’s herald, urged Isildur to cast it into Mt. Doom and destroy it, but Isildur refused, and the Ring survived. Arnor suffered heavy casualties in the war, and some parts of the land were partially depopulated.
Arnor’s second king Isildur (also King of Gondor) was killed in 2 TA by Orcs in the disastrous Battle of the Gladden Fields. His three eldest sons were killed with him, but the fourth and youngest, Valandil, who had remained at Rivendell due to his youth, became king of Arnor (2 TA). Isildur also lost the One Ring at this time, when it slipped off his finger as he tried to escape pursuing Orcs. Arnor never fully recovered from this devastating loss of its manpower.
Because Valandil and his heirs did not claim the throne of Gondor the realms were split, but Arnor’s ruler kept the title High King, whereas in the south the ruler was ‘just’ King.
Decline and Breakup
After the death of its tenth king, Eärendur, in 861 TA, Arnor was shaken by the threat of civil war between the three sons of Eärendur. The eldest son, Amlaith, claimed Kingship over all Arnor but was reduced to only ruling the region of Arthedain as his kingdom, while the other sons founded the breakaway kingdoms of Cardolan and Rhudaur.
Arnor was refounded de jure by Arthedain’s king Argeleb I, when Cardolan placed itself under the suzerainty of Arthedain. The people of Arnor were mostly wiped out by the continuing wars, but the Hobbits survived in the Shire, Men survived in Bree and other villages, while the Dúnedain of Arnor maintained the remaining cities despite a dwindling population and low birth rate.
Conflict with Angmar
Arnor’s greatest enemy in the north by the middle of the Third Age was Angmar, ruled by the Witch King of Angmar. During the reign of Malvegil (c. 1300 TA), this new power arose beyond the Ettenmoors. This land became populated with the Orcs and men of Sauron, and began attacking Rhudaur and Cardolan. Years later, Argeleb I of Arthedain, reasserted control over Cardolan, and fortified a line along the Weather Hills. Despite this action, Argeleb fell in battle with Angmar and its ally, Rhudaur. His son Arveleg, however, counterattacked in conjunction with Cardolan and drove the enemy back. He held this frontier in force for quite some years successfully.
Then in 1409 TA, Angmar crossed the Hoarwell river into Cardolan and attacked again. This time, Weathertop was captured and Arveleg fell in battle. While Amon Sûl fell, the palantír was recovered and taken to Fornost. While Cardolan was laid waste, Angmar was eventually stopped by Elven forces from Lindon and Rivendell, where Elrond countered them.
In 1940 TA, goblin and orc activity seemed to be once again on the rise, as multiple raids were staged from southern Angmar and northern Rhudaur. Investigation by the Wardens of the Emyn Waeren revealed that the goblins were not only raiding, but also seeking to arm the Rhudaurric Hill-men, using equipment crafted in Rhovanion by Easterlings in league with the Wain-Riders warring with Gondor. Though the precise route of the flow of arms was never established, increased military presence from Arnor, as well as the relocation of many of its herdsmen and farmers to the depopulated lands of Cardolan, brought the increased raiding activity to a close, and Arnor’s forces were able to patrol into southern Angmar in relative security by the end of 1942 TA.
The Great Plague
Another threat appeared to the northern successor kingdoms, this time one that swords and spears could not deter. A major plague began in the east, in the vicinity of the Sea of Rhûn, northeast of Mordor. After doing great damage in Rhovanion, it struck Osgiliath in Gondor in 1636 TA, killing King Telemnar and his family. In seriously affected areas, the plague killed 50% or more of the populace. This plague, which barely affected western Gondor, spread northwards to Cardolan.
In Cardolan, it struck severely, wiping out the last of Dúnedain of Cardolan at the mounds of Tyrn Gorthad. The Witch-king, exploiting the tragedy, sent evil spirits, the Barrow-wights, to infest the area. The Hobbits of the Shire were damaged by it, but not heavily. The plague lost its strength, however, at this point, so that most of Arthedain was unaffected.
Regions of Arnor
- Arthedain, core of the north-kingdom bordering the Lune
- Cardolan, south of the Great East Road, east of the Brandywine
- Rhudaur, between the Weather Hills and the Misty Mountains
Cities, Fortresses and Watchtowers
- Annúminas, the old capital on the shore of Lake Evendim
- Bree, a trading center located on the Great East Road
- Dolindir – Fortified town in the Emyn Aimlyg north of the Weather Hills, stronghold of Lord Belegund Thindhed
- Elostirion, a watchtower in the Tower Hills
- Fornost, the new capital of the successor state of Arthedain
- Lond Daer, an old harbor town founded by Númenóreans
- Ost Ardulin – Military fortress and staging-grounds at the north end of the Weather Hills, tasked primarily to guard against Rhudaur.
- Ost Galumar – Largest of the Northern Forts and main garrison for the defense against Arnor, primary command post of Captain Urthel Erhendion.
- Tharbad, a fortified town and port along the River Greyflood on the southern border of Arnor
- Amon Sûl, also called Weathertop, a watchtower on the highest of the Weather Hills
People and Languages
Main article: People of Arnor
The people of Arnor were of Númenórean stock, so the predominant language spoken by them was Westron. With the proximity of the Elves of Lindon, at least some of the population, especially the upper classes, were probably fluent in Quenya and Eldarin.